As I’m going to Brazil for the holidays, I didn’t bother decorating our place for Christmas this year. But this created a little issue for the blog, as I had kinda forgotten to start the edible gifts series here! 😀
To correct this error, there’s nothing easier than a quick recipe: muffins – in 40 minutes, you go from random ingredients in your pantry to a delicious treat! Patricia’s original recipe is more subtle than mine: in total, she used 1 tsp of spices. As we like bolder flavors around here, and I wanted something that screamed “Christmas!,” I tripled that amount!
For 12 muffins, you will need:
180 g (1 ½ cup) flour
1 ¼ tsp baking poder
3 tsp of your favorite spices – I used cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice, and pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
100 g (½ cup) sugar
44 g (¼ cup) brown sugar – as usual, if you are using measuring cups, press the sugar while measuring
120 g honey
75 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
100 ml whole milk, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ Tbsp whisky – I got carried away and used about 3 Tbsp
confectioner’s sugar, to dust
The good thing about muffins is that they are super quick: why grease a tin if you can just line it with paper cups? Just remember to pre-heat the oven at 180C/350F.
In a small pan, melt the butter and let it cool.
In a big bowl that fits all ingredients, put the flour, baking powder, spices, baking soda, and salt, and whisk well, to make sure there are no lumps. Add the sugars and whisk a little bit more.
The original recipe mentioned making a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, but honestly, I just poured the honey, butter, milk, egg, vanilla, and whisky right over them! With a silicone spatula, mix the batter until just combined – don’t overwork it!
Now all that is left to do is to divide the batter evenly over the muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffins comes out clean. Let them cool completely over a wire rack – well, let 11 of them cool completely while you eat that other one.
Dust the muffins with confectioner’s sugar, place them in a nice box, and go make someone’s day a lot better!
FREEZER: If one of your 2019 goals is to be a more organized person, one that plans ahead and all that, you can bake these muffins in November, cool completely, place them in a Ziploc bag, and freeze! In December, thaw them outside the fridge and dust with confectioner’s sugar. 😉
Of the recipes I made for this holiday series, this was the biggest hit BY FAR! As it yields 24 mini-muffins, I thought I’d have some leftovers to freeze, but they disappeared! I had to make it again, so I could take the pictures – and once again, there were no leftovers! 😀
This is a pretty easy recipe: only five ingredients, and you don’t even need a stand mixer! The hardest steps are chopping the nuts and buttering the mini muffin tins. This last step is mandatory, though – I tried making it with paper cups, and it all got stuck! 😦 #truestory
1 cup brown sugar – press well into the measuring cup!
½ cup all-purpose flour – yes, that’s all it takes!
1 cup pecans, chopped – chop first, then measure
2/3 cup (150 g) melted butter
2 large eggs
This is easy! Start by thoroughly buttering the mini-muffin tins.
In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, the flour, and the chopped pecans. In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and add the melted butter. Now all you have to do is combine both bowls!
Fill the well-buttered mini-muffin tins 2/3 of the way. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean. With the help of a butter knife, remove the mini-muffins from the tin right away. Let them cool on a wire rack.
When they are completely cooled, place them in a nice gift box and brighten someone’s day! 🙂
One of the things I picked up from my mom was the love for panettone – the best part of Christmas! As today is her birthday, I thought it was appropriate to post this recipe – which is much easier than the traditional panettone!
The first time I made these muffins was last Christmas. Everybody loved them, so I decided to bake them again – as they freeze wonderfully, you can bake them now, when the holiday madness is not fully on, and share them on Christmas Day!
Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you – it’s quite long, but this is not a difficult recipe! Instead of Amaretto and Cointreau, I used almond and orange extracts. You can also replace the dried fruit for candied fruit if you prefer!
For 12 muffins, you’ll need:
1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped apricots – chop, then measure
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup (60 mL) orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries – the original recipe called for candied orange peel, but I couldn’t find it! 😀
½ cup (100g) sugar
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Cointreau – I used orange extract
1 tsp Amaretto – I used almond extract
2 ¼ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup (160mL) whole milk
1 ½ Tbsp brown or turbinado sugar, to sprinkle over the muffins
Place the apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, and orange juice in a small saucepan. Mix well and cook over high heat until the juice starts to boil. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Add the candied cherries and set aside.
Pre-heat the oven on medium. Place paper liners in a common muffin tin and set aside.
Place the sugar and the orange and lemon zest in the bowl of the stand mixer. Using your fingertips, rub the zests in the sugar, so you can extract more aroma from them – this is an optional step, but it’s so fun! Add the butter and the oil, and mix until it’s light-colored. You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula every now and then.
Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. I always do that, but I must say I have no idea what happens if you add all the eggs at once! Hahahahahah!
Add the vanilla, the Cointreau (or orange extract), and the Amaretto (or almond extract). Mix well.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/4 of the flour mix to the batter, mix well, add 1/3 of the milk, and mix well. Repeat until you finish both – the flour mix will be the last thing you’ll add.
Add the reserved fruit, together with whatever orange juice is left in the pan. Mix into the batter with the silicone spatula.
Split the batter among the tins. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the muffins, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they pass the clean toothpick test.
Let them cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cooled, place them in a pretty box/bag and give them away! 🙂
The second recipe of the Christmas Tertulias is not exactly a Christmas recipe, but it is a perfect fit for the hot weather in the Southern Hemisphere. As the idea of this series is to make edible gifts, all you have to do is place these bars in a red-and-green box and there you have it: CHRISTMAS 😀 😀
They are also a great dessert for Christmas Dinner. We know your aunt is bringing
pudim (Brazilian-style flan), but you can innovate and bring these! 🙂
Lemon bars are also one of Sky’s favorite desserts: I first baked them because every time I baked something, he’d say “oh, this is pretty good, but you could make lemon bars, you know…” I’m glad he insisted, though, because these are really good! I’ve tried many recipes, but this one, by Ree Drummond, is one of the most traditional.
To fill a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 11 inch) pan with lemon bars <3, you’ll need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract – “an invention from my head,” as Grandma would say
225 g butter, cold and chopped into small cubes
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Zest and juice of 5 lemons
Confectioner’s sugar, for decoration
Start by lining the baking pan (20 x 30 cm, 8 x 11 inch) with aluminum foil − leave extra foil on the sides to form handles, so that removing the bars from the pan isn’t a traumatizing process 😀 – there’s no need to butter the foil, as there’s plenty of butter in the dough!
For the crust: in a medium-sized bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and the vanilla and use the tip of your fingers (or a pastry cutter) to mix the ingredients until it looks like fine crumbs. Press this dough onto your baking pan and bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the sides are light golden. Don’t bake any more than that, as these will go back to the oven! 🙂
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Use your whisk to mix the sugar and flour. Add the eggs, mixing well, and then add the lemon zest and juice. Mix and set aside. As this whole process takes about 3 minutes, do the dishes! 😀
Remove the crust from the oven, carefully pour the filling, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the filling is firm. Remove from the oven and cool it for a while before placing in the fridge for about 2 hours – it’s a lot easier to cut them when they’re cold!
Remove the chilled bars from the pan, using the aluminum foil. For extra prettiness, sift a generous layer of confectioner’s sugar over the bars. Cut them into 5-cm (2-inch) squares. Place the bars in a cute box (if you have to pile them, separate the layers with wax paper), and there’s your gift!
To begin our Christmas Tertulias, also known as edible gifts, I decided to cook a recipe I’ve always been curious about. We don’t eat fudge in Brazil, but when I was a child a lot of books mentioned that somebody had made it for Christmas and, of course, Honeydukes sold Fudge Flies! (#Potterhead)
I’ve read several fudge recipes: some are more complicated, requiring a candy thermometer and a lot of patience, and some are more straightforward. Obviously, I chose the easiest one I could find, by Patricia Scarpin! While I was writing this post, I realized I had (involuntarily) adapted the recipe – I had read it wrong and only used ½ cup of sweetened condensed milk, instead of ½ can! 😀
This is a GREAT gift – it’s different (well, if you’re from Brazil), it will stay firm unrefrigerated, it’s delicious and… it’s so easy to make! A lot less stressful than trying to go to a shopping mall this late in the season!
To make the (adapted) fudge, you’ll need:
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk – do NOT swap for evaporated milk!
330 g of a good dark chocolate, chopped – as the recipe is basically chocolate, the quality matters quite a lot. I used a 64% cocoa chocolate.
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract – you’ll see that the picture looks like a lot more, and that’s right: my homemade extract wasn’t quite full-strength yet, so I added some.
Chopped walnuts, to taste − completely optional. You can use walnuts, hazelnuts… or nothing at all.
Start by lining a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking pan with aluminum foil − leave extra foil on the sides to form handles, so that it is easy to remove the fudge from the pan.
Chop the chocolate into small chunks – as mine came in discs, I didn’t bother chopping. In a heavy-bottomed pan, place the chocolate, the sweetened condensed milk, and the water. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is completely melted.
When the chocolate is melted, you’ll notice that the fudge is in a thicker consistency. Turn off the stove and add the vanilla. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Spread the chopped nuts over the fudge, pressing lightly so that they stick – I once forgot to press and the nuts fell off as the fudge cooled #fail. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Use the foil handles to remove the fudge and cut it into 2.5-cm (1 inch) cubes. In theory, they last approximately 1 week in the fridge. Here, they lasted about three hours…. #self-control 😀